How I Met Your Stepmother

Today’s post is written by my husband, Gavin.  This is his take on how it all got started.  Enjoy!

How I Met Your Stepmother

By Gavin

Visualize three children, feigning interest in the story I am about to tell, sitting on a couch. The oldest, Olivia, rolling her eyes, as if she had heard the story many times before, which she probably had. Dominick is trying to look interested, but instead looks like he is falling asleep. Sophia, the youngest, is just bouncing up and down, and knocking into her brother and sister like an old pinball game.

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Kids, I know you have watched the show, How I Met Your Mother, I thought I should share with you, How I Met Your Stepmother.

The first time I met your stepmom, Stacey, was at a fundraiser at your school. I was with your mom, and Stacey was with her then husband. I was sitting with your fourth-grade teacher, Olivia, and she introduced me to your future fifth grade teacher, who happens to be your stepmom. There were a couple of things I remember about that night. First  her husband at the time kept raising a paddle to pledge money for the teachers. This struck me as somewhat odd, in that he was donating money that would be dedicated as a bonus to be paid to his wife. Second, I don’t think we said much to one another outside of, “Hi, I am Stacey,” and, “Hi, I am Gavin.”

Now, I met with your stepmother about three other times during this phase of my life. In all of these occasions, our encounters were cordial and professional. During those times, my conversations consisted of how was Olivia doing in school. By the way, Olivia, those reports were good.  Now kids, while I spent time with some of your teachers in a social situation, I never spent any time with your stepmother outside of those few moments of parent-teacher conferences or open houses.

I have to fast-forward to the night I realized my marriage to your mother was in serious jeopardy.  It was a very difficult night, and ironically the next morning I had a parent-teacher conference with your stepmother. At that time, Stacey was your teacher, Dominick. I have to say that looking back, this is one of the most bizarre moments of my life. At the time I had no idea where my life would go, yet here I am talking about my son with my future wife and ex-wife. Your stepmother and I did not really have any contact at this time. I had heard she was going through a divorce as well, but I honestly did not give it much attention at the time. See, a divorce is a hard thing and at that moment, life as I knew it ended.  It also tore me up to break apart everything you knew as a family. The following months were some of the darkest moments of my life. I do believe that when a door closes, another opens if we allow our eyes to see it.

For me the divorce allowed me to remember who I am, and to enjoy things I had forgotten were important to me. I started to remember things about myself that I had either forgotten or ignored. One of the things I remembered was the importance of caring for people not closely connected to you. One day, I had heard someone making comments about Stacey and how she was handling her own divorce. Now, we live in a small town, and by this time, I knew some of the details of your Stepmom’s divorce. From my perspective, some of her circumstances seemed to parallel mine. I found the conversation to be petty. I was concerned for her, because I knew enough about her situation to know we had walked similar paths. I tried to reach out to Stacey several times. Really, at this point, what I wanted to let her know was that I understood her situation, and if she wanted or needed someone to talk to, I was there.  I emailed her a couple of times. I did not get a response. I sent one last message, thinking if she did not want to respond, that was fine with me. I felt like I had reached out to someone, and if she did not want to talk to me, so be it.

Well, Stacey did respond to the third email, and we chose to take our dogs for a walk. That first time getting together was shall we say interesting. This was the first time either one of us had really talked to one another since Dominick’s parent-teacher conference.  Our discussions to this point had primarily centered around your academic performance, not our personal lives. So, that night walking the dogs was our first time truly learning about each other. Our conversation was stilted, but okay.

We decided to meet again to walk the dogs. Most of the times we went later in the evening when you were in bed, Sophia. We started to talk about things, not just our divorce, and I looked forward to chatting with Stacey. We had a lot in common with each other besides getting a divorce.

We both liked similar things. Stacey was telling me about her upcoming training to participate in a triathlon, which I thought was really cool, we both had three children, and neither one of us wanted to date someone in our town.  I was also amazed at how many things Stacey did in a day. There was a saying that Stacey had: “Sleep is overrated.”  It seemed to be her mantra.

Now at that time we were both on the same dating site.  I won’t say which one, although it rhymes with catch.  I saw your stepmom was also on the sight and was listed as a high prospect in my search criteria. Since I did not really want to date someone locally (I wanted to avoid small-town gossip), I thought it would be a novel idea for Stacey to help me improve my profile.  Also, given that your stepmom is a language arts teacher, I thought it would be an excellent way to improve the grammar in my profile.  Now you can make all the comments you want saying, “Fool!!!”  But I did not want to date someone from our town, and I believed that feeling to be mutual.

I would say that your stepmom and I agree on most things, but the one thing we don’t agree on is when was our first date.  We were walking the dogs together probably once a week. Stacey took me out to celebrate my birthday and the purchase of her new bike for the triathlon. She also invited me to a Christmas Party, stating “it was not a date.”  But in my mind the Christmas party was our first date, or at least it evolved into one.  When I was invited to go to the Christmas Party, I said yes.  This was the first Christmas party I had been invited to in years, and I was excited to go.  There were many people I knew going to the party.  Most of them were your former teachers.  The night of the party was rainy, and I was late, yet it did not really phase her, which made me happy.  The party was festive and there were some surprised people that your stepmom and I showed up at the party together — remember this is a small town.

I had a great time.  I spent time talking to a number of people, including many of your former teachers.  I spent time getting them up-to-date on your escapades as well as letting them know what I had been doing. It was a great talking to so many people, then I realized, I have not been talking to the person who invited me, doh!

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Everyone was gathering around in the living room, getting ready to play a game. Well, I found Stacey, and we found ourselves on the couch and began to have a conversation. The conversation was different than anyone we had had before. I don’t remember the name of the game, but I remember the conversation. It was great, and at that moment the room shrank to include only us. We chatted about life and how we got where we were, and it was fun, and we kept talking, and oh yeah, we were playing a game.

I had a great time at the party and was sad to see it end.  We had gone to the party with another couple, and they drove us home. Now here is another point we both don’t quite agree on how it happened.  I think that our hands somehow met each other. I have been told that I went to reach for her hand. That was also the night we shared a kiss. I won’t go into details of what happened except for these two things: first, I was the one who initiated that action, and second, all of your future step family was there, and at least one person saw us.

Now we both agree that we started dating right after that Christmas, and it honestly did not take long to realize it was okay to date someone in town, and there was something special about Stacey. Our walks with the dogs became more frequent, and I found myself calling or texting Stacey always. I remember that I told you that Stacey and I were dating and I recall your immediate response, Olivia, was “you have my permission to marry her.”

As I said, dating in a small town can be interesting. For months when we ran into people who did not know we were dating, there was a look of shock. Dominick, when one of your friends found out, he turned white as a sheet. It was amusing and made for great laughs. When I tell people now that I am married to your former teacher, I see eyebrows raise, and it still makes me chuckle.  You never know where life will take you. I promise you that in your life some doors will close.  When they do, open your eyes, I promise a new door will open. Getting to know Stacey, after I had met her, was one of the luckiest things that has happened to me.

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Our first day-long date: Hiking the Pinnacles

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